Holy Cross, Abbey of

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Former Cistercian monastery on the river Suir, near Thurles, County Tipperary, Ireland. It was founded c. 1180 by Domnall Mór O'Brien, king of Thomond, to house a relic of the true cross, said to have been sent by Pope Paschal II to an earlier O'Brien king. Domnall's son, Donnchad Cairbrech O'Brien, was a great benefactor of the growing monastery; King John of England confirmed the previous grants and added to the abbey's privileges. Much of the church was rebuilt in the 15th century. William O'Dwyer was the last abbot, but even after the suppression by King henry viii the site was held in veneration because of the precious relic. Hugh o'neill, earl of Tyrone, visited Holy Cross in 1600, as did Hugh Roe o'donnell in 1601. Queen Elizabeth I conferred the abbey and its lands on the Butler family of Ormond, under whose powerful protection some monks were able to maintain a precarious connection with the buildings into the 17th century. The Butlers acquired the relic; but when the earl abandoned the Catholic faith, he transferred the relic to a Catholic friend. In 1801, after many vicissitudes, the relic passed to the bishop of Cork, who deposited it in the local Ursuline convent, where it remains. The abbey is now in ruins.

Bibliography: m. hartry, Triumphalia chronologica monasterii Sanctae Crucis in Hibernia, ed. and tr. d. murphy (Dublin 1891). a. thompson et al., "The Cistercian Order in Ireland," Archaeological Journal 88 (1931). Journal of the Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland (Dublin 1849), refs. in variousv. from 167. e. curtis, ed., Calendar of Ormond Deeds, 6 v. (Dublin 193243).

[j. ryan]

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Holy Cross, Abbey of

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